Visiting scholar urges students to see bigger picture


Dr. Geoffrey Dabelko, professor and director of environmental studies at Ohio University, spoke to James Madison University students about the importance of tackling environmental and human security issues as part of International Week 2014.

From 1997 to 2012, Dabelko served as director of the Environmental Change and Security Program, a nonpartisan policy forum on environment, population and security issues at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

During his talk, titled “The Periphery Isn’t Peripheral: Acting on the Integration Imperative for Sustainability,” Dabelko focused on reducing what he calls “the four tyrannies” that constrain individuals from extending their vision beyond their immediate circle of concerns. These include the tyranny of the inbox, tyranny of immediate results, tyranny of the single sector and tyranny of one-dimensional definition of success.

“A majority of what is out there is considered to be in our peripherals, and for us to effectively tackle these challenges we need to know what these hurdles are,” he said.

Dabelko proposed practical ways to combat the four tyrannies, stating, “We need to practice peripheral vision to make sure key issues outside our specific portfolios come out of the shadows and into full view.” He emphasized breaking out of our comfort zones to explore our peripheral vision for a deeper understanding of key issues.

He closed the discussion by taking questions from the audience on a range of topics, from how one can promote change in today’s society, to overcoming social challenges, to proactive and reactive tactics.

“We need to understand that it isn’t going to be easy tackling controversial issues,” Dabelko said. “However, it really is what we need to focus on."

For more information regarding environmental sustainability, view Dabelko’s article, “The Periphery Isn’t Peripheral.”


Jordan Bogner (’15)

Sept. 23, 2014

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Published: Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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